As featured on Australian Broker by Madison Utley

As the lending capacity and funding ability across many banks and non-banks has diminished in response to COVID-19, one SME lender has just appointed its first head of partnerships following eight consecutive months of double-digit growth.

Bizcap has welcomed “industry heavyweight” Kama Atcheson to the role, where she will be responsible for enhancing the group’s broker offering.

The new appointment not only boasts over 20 years of experience in the finance and lending industry, but possesses a wide breadth of knowledge having worked at organisations with offerings ranging across the non-conforming, wholesale, white label and retail spaces.

Further, Atcheson has frequently been a part of the core team at new institutions just getting off the ground, helping to champion groups such as Bankwest, ME Bank, Prospa and Lumi in their earliest days.

“I’ve found myself pioneering at the grassroots stages to help lenders get going several times over. I really enjoy creating that journey and the dream, and helping lenders’ get their message across to brokers,” she said.

It was not only this zest for helping groups scale up that drew Atcheson to Bizcap, but the lender’s innovative approach to funding which she sees as being fundamentally different to any other player in the field.

“Bizcap is a solution lender, meaning we can do things where the others just can’t, whether because of their lending policies or because they’re heavily restricted by processes they need to follow,” Atcheson said.

“But we’re happy to work with the broker and the client to find a solution to overcome just about any weakness. We’re constantly breaking our own rules. Credit always says to me, ‘Kama, find me a reason to write the deal.’ We’re always looking for ways, anything to support why we should write it.”

Atcheson explained it is the group’s surprisingly hands-on approach – a rare quality for a fintech – that sets it apart from other lenders and makes its business strategy possible.

“We’ve got an impressive technology stack, but we’re also the most manual fintech lender out there, and that’s what makes the difference,” Atcheson said.

“Each deal is individually assessed; we use technology to collate the data, but we don’t put it through a decision engine to spit out an answer. For so many of our customers, we’re considering out-of-the-box solutions, so we have to have somebody manually reviewing each situation.”

This flexibility and individualised approach is enabling Bizcap to meet the COVID-19-created need cropping up among businesses head on, particularly with its cash flow product which doesn’t require a security and ranges in loan size from $5,000 up to $600,000.

“Right now, we’re helping businesses that have been closed for a couple of months; instead of just taking the average of their monthly turnover for the last six months which would be very limiting if they’ve been closed, we’re looking at pre-COVID, a 12-month snapshot maybe, recognising that their being closed recently is an anomaly. If they seem to be back on the path to where they were, we’re happy to get them started with a loan,” Atcheson explained.

“We’re also happy to increase them as they’re growing back up, whereas a lot of the other lenders have minimum restrictions with timeframes, saying ‘You have to be with us for six months before we can revisit you.’ We’re happy to check in after a month and say, ‘You’ve significantly increased your revenue, let’s help you out further.’

“So the product may be similar to other cashflow lenders in ways, but we’re really unique in bringing that highly tailored support to businesses.”

While Atcheson was generous in her acknowledgement of the support being offered via mainstream banks as well as other cash flow lenders, she emphasised the “massive segment” of borrowers who can’t be helped through either avenue.

“In my new role, I want to bring awareness of what we’re doing so more clients in that space can be assisted,” she said.

“We see ourselves as a platform borrowers can use to get back to mainstream. We’ve seen somebody go from a credit score of 117 to a credit score of 750 within the space of a year by working with us. That customer was then eligible for a bank loan when they didn’t even have a hope of getting there just 12 months before.

“By expanding our broker distribution, we will be able to help those clients, and support more Australian businesses overall,” Atcheson concluded.